His Name is Kai

I received a very happy call yesterday from my brother with the announcement of his son’s name! They have decided to name him Kai. He explained that picking a global name with many origins in different cultures was perfect as Kai has a rich and mixed heritage of Asian, European, and some Native American descent. Kai means ocean or sea. Coupled with his middle name [which means help], his namesake is “an ocean of God’s help.”

I didn’t put this together before, but he also told me that Kai was born exactly one month after the bad car accident, one that is still causing him trouble from his brain injury. He said in that period of time he really saw God’s help and help from others as they prepared for the little guy’s birth. I later told him that phonetically, it sounded very similar to the Khmer word for “month” which is also a beautiful testament to how something beautiful can happen despite hard circumstances with time and patience.

People thought N+R were so strange to go the “traditional route” and wait to find out the sex of the baby at birth. They were further flummoxed by the fact they hadn’t picked a name on his birth date. It’s interesting to think that the first thing we possess isn’t material and is given by others; that’s quite humbling. A name carries so much meaning, whether it is after a friend, relative, or icon or was picked for the meaning or because it felt meant to be.

Something else that is quite sentimental to me is that since N+R are currently renting the old family home, baby Kai’s room was my old nursery. And so another generation of our family plants their roots in that home. ❤

Self Harm No Longer

This blog post is really hard for me to talk about and admit, even though it’s probably been evident to people longer than it has to me because of location.

I grew up thinking self harm was inflicting horrible pain upon yourself or cutting your wrists. And I ignorantly thought that since I once attempted to cut my wrists with a knife and it scared me shitless that I didn’t self harm.

Except I have been for a majority of my life. And I’m publicly posting this as a commitment to stop.

Whenever I’m anxious, frustrated, or unable to cope with my feelings, the first thing I do is pick my arms. I will scratch with my nails until I draw blood or pinch my skin until it opens and then I will pick the scabs and not allow them to heal. Sometimes when I feel neck deep in anxiety the first sign is not how I feel (when I’m neck deep I don’t “see” it), but looking at my forearms. They will be spotted with red welts, dry flaking patches of dead skin tired of scabbing, and dark traces of where a wound has been.

Nobody has really talked to me about it. Maybe they didn’t know why or didn’t want to be rude.  I guess it may disguise itself to others looking like psoriasis that comes and goes. Or perhaps people thought they were bug bites I scratched until bleeding. But I know why.

The reason varies. Sometimes I feel nervous or overwhelmed and it gives me something to distract myself with. Sometimes I feel frustrated with myself or a situation and I feel relief with “punishing” myself. Sometimes I need to fidget and ground myself and that is what I resort to.

I cannot practice self care while still practicing self harm. I am consciously acknowledging that the pain and comfort of scabbing my arms is not acceptable and not the right response. I am forgiving myself instead of letting myself think I am despicable. I am translating that energy and relief into writing with mindfulness and fidgeting with jewelry or my fitbit.

I commit today to self harm no longer.

Made Up: Realizing Skin Deep Perspectives

Confession time. There are times I get extra dressy and made up for my boyfriend. For what purpose I’m not quite sure. Some compliment fishing, if I’m honest? But mostly because I want to look special to show love and appreciation when we do something special, or to make a casual date something special.

Except that’s not how Josh ever sees it. Seriously, this guy doesn’t give me a second look over most of the time. And HE never dresses up for me unless it’s a dress code for the event. What gives? Doesn’t he know I suck at makeup and it took me a LONG time to get this put together? Doesn’t he know I fussed over what to wear today to tie to all together?
Once in a while, he’ll tell me he hasn’t seen my shirt or dress or something before and ask if it’s new. That’s pretty much the extent of it.

Do you see how fussy and huffy and full of expectations my last paragraph was? I can and have gotten flustered over it.

But it finally dawned on me after forever and a day why he doesn’t say anything, and it’s not because he doesn’t notice or isn’t a good man. It’s because he’s a good, honest, and simple man. It’s because as awful as I paint him in paragraph 2, that is just a biased perspective that isn’t being rational.

The truth is, Josh has told me multiple times I don’t need makeup, he likes me fresh faced just as much. He also compliments my physical traits at the strangest times. We’ll go on a rigorous hike or drive back to my place after the gym and he’ll glance over and say “Pretty Kitty” when I’m dripping sweat, frumpy, and could probably afford more deodorant. We’ll be three episodes into a Netflix binge and I’m in comfy clothes and day worn makeup and he’ll compliment my beauty.

That’s because, as shallow as I think of myself at times, my guy doesn’t see my beauty as conditional or situational. So why make a big fuss out of fancier clothes or extra beauty products? My lesson here is that in a relationship, dating or married, expectations are sometimes false perspectives on reality. What we expect of another person may sometimes paint them in a bad light and be a lie. That lie for me sometimes is that he doesn’t appreciate my extra efforts or doesn’t think much of my looks. But when that perspective is fully illuminated, I see that isn’t the reality of things at all.

Next outing I will dress nicely to feel nice for me, and take the extra effort to communicate verbally that I appreciate this time with him. That the two of us adventuring or enjoying everyday things are special to me.

Nowhere Near

Last night the volume in the house got a bit loud and heated. It was stupid, it was frustrating, and it was a situation where I just needed to get out. Given the fact it was nearly 11pm, I also didn’t have many options.

I drove slowly through neighborhoods hoping I didn’t look like I was thief scoping my next home to plunder. After a while, I parked in front of a home I was familiar with, but dared not disturb that acquaintance at that hour. Two teenage looking guys on bikes rode through the street and decided to pass awfully close to my car and I booked it out of my hiding spot.

As I went back to weaving through quiet sleeping cul-de-sacs, I realized in sadness that I DIDN’T HAVE a place to go. My boyfriend is a few towns away, and he would have been there in a heartbeat or let me come over, but I didn’t have a non-family member I could trust to bare my soul to and not hate me for crashing their place at 11pm.

I live in a good town. There is generally nothing to fear, and we are ranked one of the top safest places to raise a family. But when night falls, even our town tends to get shady. In the daytime we are family friendly residential and shopping spots, but at night you see what I assume is drug dealing and the like.

I’m longing to have that close friend again. One where I can plan weekend fun with, or chat over coffee with. I have some wonderful acquaintances here, but we just don’t fully mesh. I don’t know if I shoo people away without knowing it or if I’m just horrible at making really close friends? Either way, there’s an emptiness where a close friend should be, but I don’t know how or when that gaping hole will be filled.

I think one of the hardest parts of being a quarter-lifer is having so much change happening around you or to you. Those connections you built in your youth dissipate as people pursue careers, callings, and have families and move away.

I cling to my amazing friends states away, but sometimes, I just need someone near. An actual girl friend with a shoulder I don’t have to metaphorically lean on, because she’s right there.

You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

Moments as Souvenirs

The last few years, as the friends closest to me move states away, I realize that the object of my vacations are moments together rather than sightseeing. Since everyone’s so scattered it has been fun to see their new haunts and homes and see what their state is all about.

This past trip was a long time coming. It’s been three years since I’ve seen this best friend and family (I did see her briefly last year when she flew out alone for her grandfather’s memorial.) I pretty much have best friends and then acquaintances, so I don’t mean to have her sound like she’s the only one that matters, but sometimes in life, you are so close to someone you are practically sisters/family. That’s the case here. She pursued a friendship with me during a dark time in my teens where I lost hope in people. From there, I stuck by her side through some heavy stuff in her life. We’ve seen the worst and best of each other, and because of that, we have a bond that is unbreakable. And as her family grew, I was at each birth and am an honorary auntie to her three precious boys.

Her youngest wasn’t even one when they moved, and I was nervous about how long it would take to warm up to me. We skype and my friend mentions me often, but three years is a long time for young kids. When they picked me up, the younger 2 were there and staring/adoring me. I had to stifle a cheesy grin and pretend I didn’t notice it. They wanted to reacquaint with me and that was taking in every detail of what I looked like. The littlest one was talkative and chattered with me right away. The middle smiled but was soft spoken the first day. The eldest was in bed by the time I got to their place, but the next morning, he hugged me and it was like old times.

God has been working great things in this family and it was so neat to just be a part of their week. All of them are doing so well there, and I can’t even selfishly wish they’d move back. I know they are where they should be and they flourish here. I am so proud of the life my best friend and her husband have made for themselves here.

The sweetest parts of the trip were all of us in the car getting eldest brother to school and praying all together before they got to the school. And all of us gathered, mommy, daddy, the kids, and me – holding hands and praying together at bedtime. And of course, hearing three little voices tell me throughout the day, “I love you, Auntie Laura.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 8.38.03 AM.png
Making lego gummies and gummy bears with Auntie Laura.

13327456_10153912144543855_942583420589417820_n
At the waterfall fifteen minutes from their home. Yeah, it’s crazy. There’s water everywhere here.

13393960_10153573764583021_2125635899810280733_n
Pedis with the bestie!

13321771_10153918639363855_2246549071391827880_n
Frozen custard – A local favorite!

13319719_10153912145013855_8028104756737247173_n
Another spot not even 15 minutes away with gorgeous waterfalls.

13256377_10153912145088855_7251662131307088842_n
The rock formations and lushness around it just makes it even more breathtaking.

13256014_10153912144438855_8469449760939632097_n
So much green! So much water!

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 8.39.40 AM
Turtle boy! One of the funniest moments! The youngest is such a goofball! He was playing in his carseat, collapsed in it all buckled in, and started walking around like a turtle.

It was hard to say goodbye the last day. I know I’ll be back, but I also know an annual trip isn’t going to happen, so it’s bittersweet. My best friend and I talk nearly everyday though. We stay close mostly through messaging each other and social media and skyping.

I came back feeling really rested, really loved, and full of love. ❤

 

You are attractive. Incredibly attractive.

Ladies, when’s the last time you thought about how attractive you are? Are you disgusted or accepting of your image of you? Or perhaps you know you are and love it?

I think in a world that wants us to turn heads with body language and sex appeal, or find approval of ourselves through others’ opinions, it’s important to step back and see your attractiveness in your own eyes.

Look at your body, and think of how incredible it is. You can lose or gain weight to better your health. Your body is able to stretch to grow a baby or flex some mighty muscles. Whether you are tall curvy all over, petite and slender, or some other combination, your form is womanly without trying. Your body is powerful and provocative without ever showing any of it off. Your hair, eye, and skin color? All of that is an awesome combination God picked out for you and is part of what makes you unique. There is a specialness in having your grandmother’s eyes and your dad’s nose.

Think of what you’re attracted to when you’re thinking of your boyfriend or potential date material. What is conventional and what isn’t? More than likely, you don’t just like someone for conventional attractiveness. If the idea of tall, dark, and handsome makes you giggle and roll your eyes, then why do you think you need to be some idealized creature? You probably had non-physical traits in there too, didn’t you? Maybe you like someone with a good sense of humor. Maybe you like someone who is confident and fearless. Maybe you like humbleness or sensitivity. Did you throw in common interests? Maybe they need to be fluent in Marvel and DC comics. Perhaps they need to love pizza as dearly as you do. Did they maybe need to share a sense of adventure for the outdoors? Think of how it is not only the physical traits that make you attracted to others. Think of how others likewise see you as a multifaceted person with interests and passions that also connect you with them. Think of how unique you are and how special it is when there is a common bond.

Let’s take a moment to examine how you project yourself. What do you want to say about you, and how do you want that affecting your allurement? Perhaps you are mindful of your vivacity. You’re loud and animated and you love it and they have to love it too. Or perhaps your passion is spiritual and that is a large priority that you project to potential suitors – they know you are firm in what you believe. Perhaps you are nurturing and you show warmth and care and encourage growth in others and you find that someone with that trait works best so you can be more effective as a couple. Do you consciously put anything out there, looking to find someone that appreciates that projection? Are you aware of how you present yourself to the world? Everyone has something great to project, but sometimes we don’t make it mindful or do so boldly.

Lastly, think of what you personally like about yourself. There is always something, and ideally, there should be many things you can think of because you are truly awesome! Accept that others may think these things are pretty cool too, because more than likely, they do!

You are attractive. You are magnetic to the right people. You have control over what you project. You are worthwhile not because others say so, but because you know so. Don’t ever let self-doubt tell you otherwise. You don’t ever need someone’s approval to know so. Know that you are attractive as you are, outside of other people’s opinions.

You are magnificent and beautiful just being who you are, and being true to that attracts just the right people for you.

12 Days until Race Day!

The race and foster festival is almost here! Like, less than 2 weeks away! I’m so excited. The culmination of our year’s worth of efforts will finally be put to action very soon.

I have so much respect for all charity races now, especially ones that are just starting up. It’s A LOT of work, and there are so many people behind the scenes to make it possible.

You start your year hoping that enough donations and fundraising help spread the message and provide you a backbone for all that happens. Then you run into little setbacks and people trying their hardest to secure a race place and work with the city to set the route and all the planning aspects. You work on race cards and flyers and hand them out hoping businesses will let you display them on their community boards and that they catch the attention of people around town and county wide.

This is my first year on board, for the fourth annual event. Our race numbers are the highest they’ve ever been which is a good sign, and God definitely put a hedge around us as other charity races around our timeframe were cancelled due to low sign ups. Now we are just praying that rain doesn’t get in the way.

I have learned so much about foster youth and some of their struggles. And I know what I currently understand is only a tiny amount. I think I naively assumed for a long time that all foster children wanted to be adopted and one of the primary reasons to foster was to adopt. The reality is that the heart of fostering is providing a temporary home and safe environment where you can foster hope, love, and encouragement. Sometimes that leads to adoption, and sometimes that leads to a child reuniting with a parent or a relative gaining custody. Sometimes children do wish to age out of the foster system with no plan of being adopted. Sometimes they place their loyalty in their parent(s) and refuse. Our race helps pay for things the state may not be able to offer, like orthodontia, extra curricular activities, and learning programs – things that help boost self-confidence and prepare them for a bright future.

Next Saturday and Sunday, we go to the site and walk through plans and do our training with volunteers. We need an estimated 200 volunteers, we’ve grown so much!  I’m just flabbergasted at that. 200 volunteers from all over the county have stepped up, local businesses and big corporations have stepped up, and the feeling of community is just so overwhelming. There are so many hearts unified for a great cause. This is what fuels us for next year.